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We must hear their voices

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We must hear their voices

Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month this year highlights the national shame of statistics that represent the murders taking place behind closed doors, in backyards and on our streets.
Words: Ingrid Nelson.

It used to be one woman a week. In 2024, so far, one Australian woman has been violently killed every four days. Every. Four. Days.

It’s a sobering and shocking statistic and it has to stop. Now, more than ever, we need to stand united to send a clear message that violence in our communities will not be tolerated.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month – a time dedicated to raising awareness, promoting prevention and supporting victims of domestic and family violence.

Throughout the month, local organisations, support groups and government agencies come together to organise a series of events aimed at educating the public about the signs of domestic and family violence (DFV) and the resources available for those in need.

The Sunshine Coast’s annual Candlelight Vigil and March at Cotton Tree Park was held this week, with hundreds of locals joining as one to show their support. This year’s theme was: “Hear Their Voices – Speak up for Women and Children”.

Centacare Maroochydore, which provides domestic and family violence counselling and support services, is led by area manager Adam Beck who says: “This is a human rights issue: the right of victims to live a life free of violence and coercion and for children to grow up in homes where they feel safe, supported and valued.

“Women are three-times more likely to experience violence at the hands of someone they know.

“Whilst these figures are disturbing, the federal and state governments are committed to ending domestic violence within a generation and by joining us, you can learn more about this issue and help make this goal a reality.”

Mr Beck says Centacare works closely with women and children who are exposed to violence in the home, which in turn can have significant long-term impacts on their development, relationships and academic outcomes.

Sunshine Coast Lightning DFV prevention ambassador Tara Hinchliffe says violence is never okay and should never be tolerated.

“Our Sunshine Coast Lightning team and I are proud to be taking a stand against domestic and family violence,” Ms Hinchliffe says.

“We stand with the victims and against all forms of abuse.”

Council representatives will be handing out commemorative purple ribbons for DFV Prevention Month at the Sunshine Coast Lightning vs Melbourne Mavericks game on Saturday, May 4.

As someone who has experienced firsthand the cycle of abuse in her own childhood, and as an adult in a violent relationship, Sunshine Coast trauma counsellor, author and speaker, Janelle Parsons says growing up in an environment where trauma and violence are normalised can have profound and lasting effects on young minds.

Having now broken free of that cycle, Ms Parsons also knows the transformative power of intervention and prevention and is passionate about teaching others to do the same through her recently launched charity organisation Rise & Thrive Co Ltd.

“Rise & Thrive is focused on breaking the cycle of intergenerational abuse, dismantling the stigmas around domestic violence and supporting everyone through their unique recovery journey,” Ms Parsons says.

“As a mother of two teenagers, I understand the profound importance of overcoming the cycle of domestic violence, as I didn’t want to pass on the unwanted legacy of trauma that I experienced through childhood and adulthood. By identifying not only what I needed but what hundreds of others I’ve spoken to were looking for, I developed a program around prevention and intervention.

“So often, as a victim of abuse or trauma, it becomes a cycle. It becomes normalised. I want to help people recognise that it is not normal behaviour.

“It’s about giving people the life tools that can help them unlearn that cycle that has been created or prevent it from starting.”

Ms Parsons says Domestic Violence Prevention Month is so important to help encourage open conversations and allow people to have a voice and feel safe.

“There needs to be action taken. There needs to be a change in the community, otherwise in 10 years’ time, we are still going to be having this conversation.”

To find out more, go to www.facebook.com/RiseandThriveCoLtd

Resources and contacts

In an emergency, call the ambulance or police on 000.

All incidents of violence should be reported to the police. If there is no immediate emergency, you can report DFV to the police by phoning Policelink on 13 14 44.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au for advice and support. This service is open 24 hours and provides confidential advice via phone or webchat.

You can also call:

DVConnect Womensline: 1800 811 811
DVConnect Mensline: 1800 600 636

  • Centacare provides a range of specialist support services for women, children and families impacted by domestic and family violence. For more information, contact the Maroochydore office on 5430 9300.
  • Download the bethereapp.com.au domestic violence bystander support app that gives you direct access to tools that empower, educate and support you to help someone who is experiencing domestic or family violence.
  • For more information about domestic and family violence prevention on the Sunshine Coast, visit sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/living-and-community/community-support/prevention-of-domestic-and-family-violence.

Wish upon One Billion Stars

Join Sunshine Coast Libraries from now until May 14 for their One Billon Stars paper star weaving workshops. One Billion Stars encourages communities around the world to weave stars as symbols of hope, courage and solidarity to end all forms of violence. Register for free at: library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/whats-on/at-the-library/one-billion-stars.

DV Safe Phone CEO Ashton Wood went from being a bystander to forming a national charity which helps women escape domestic violence.

It was all the result of a conversation with an ex-police senior sergeant.

A Sunshine Coast local, Mr Wood had a car loaded with household items to donate to charity, but overnight Queensland went into COVID lockdown and he had nowhere to take them.

Among his family’s discarded possessions were disused mobile phones. Mr Wood called his police contact, Janine, to ask where he could unload his goods, but he was shocked by what she said next.

“Ashton, those phones could save a life if I could have them,” she told him.

“We can have the best safety and escape plan in place for a survivor, but quite often their phone is tracked, monitored or taken from them and they literally cannot call us for help.”

This technology-based abuse and surveillance is another form of coercive control.

Four years on, the Sunshine Coast-based charity has fixed and donated 8000 mobile phones (complete with SIM cards, credit and charger) to 361 domestic violence agencies, safe houses, hospitals and police stations, which it partners with nationally.

DV Safe Phone has 840 mobile phone collection points Australia-wide.

So far, it has received 23,000 phones.

It accepts phones in any condition but the better a phone works, the quicker the charity can get it into the hands of someone who really needs it.

“We are currently sending out 100 phones a week,” Mr Wood says.

“In November last year, we sent out 395 phones.

“The demand just keeps growing.

“If anyone is looking to support a local grassroots charity where the dollars go directly to saving lives, then we would love their financial support to keep the doors open.”

Phones that can’t be repaired are donated to Mobile Muster, which destroys them and makes sure they’re recycled properly – shredded and used for parts.

“So far, we have diverted two tonnes of phones from landfill by giving them to survivors or giving them to Mobile Muster to recycle,” Mr Wood says.

Anyone who needs a phone can visit dvsafephone.org and find the nearest agency on its map, including SunnyKids here on the Coast.

The website also includes another map showing 800 locations where people can drop off their old mobile phones.

mm

Ingrid Nelson is the Co Editor of My Weekly Preview and a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience.

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